The film’s haters aside, Birds of Prey and its box office news is rather surprising.
Birds of Prey: The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn, seemed to be tracking quite well. Advance word from fans and critics was mostly gushing, Rotten Tomatoes has it at 80% Fresh, with an audience score of 83%, and a B+ Cinemascore. You can read FandomWire’s review here, and watch us asking moviegoers as they left the theater to share their genuine reactions.
Industry tracking had the film projected to make $50-55 million in North America. Warner Brothers settled on a more conservative $45 million estimate. The movie, starring Margot Robbie reprising her role as Harley Quinn from 2016’s Suicide Squad, was this weekend’s only new wide release, did come in at #1 for the weekend. But it came in far lower than expectations.
After grossing only $4 million on Thursday night previews, and $13 million for Friday grosses… as of Sunday morning, Birds of Prey’s box office tally will actually end at $33.3 million. This is not a good sign for the film.
The Cathy Yan directed film, based on the popular DC Comics Birds of Prey also starred Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Huntress, Jurnee Smollett-Bell as Black Canary, Rosie Perez as Renee Montoya and Ella Jay Basco as Cassandra Cain.
The film however did not feature Harley’s love interest the Joker, as fan reaction to Jared Leto’s Joker from Suicide Squad, was not very well received, and he was seemingly pushed out of the DCEU all together. While Leto may be secretly enjoying this film’s failure, his disappearance could be one reason the film isn’t connecting with as many fans.
Leto’s polarizing performance aside, Harley and Joker have always come as a pair in the comics, and with Mr. J looming over the film (he is mentioned A LOT), his removal from the film only helps shine a spotlight on the DCEU’s sometimes messy, lack of plan. The film leads to a point that should see these two characters face-off, and instead we are given Ewan McGregor as Black Mask and his sociopathic partner Victor Zsasz, played by Chris Messina. Two fine actors, in delightfully evil performances, but neither as good as Joker.
The film’s R-rating is likely a bigger reason for the film’s disconnect at the box office. Suicide Squad debuted in August 2016 with a $133 million dollar weekend, and a PG-13 rating. Harley was marketed to younger audiences, and those families couldn’t come out to see Birds of Prey this time.
While we can applaud DC for constantly taking R-rated comic book chances, this was a film that didn’t NEED to be rated R. While there was plenty more violence, and adult themes, none of it felt absolutely necessary. Films like Joker, Logan, and Deadpool fully embraced their R-rating, where it’d be hard to see the film any other way. you could argue the film would not have lost much with a PG-13 rating instead.
With a reported budget of $80 million before marketing and distribution fees, the film did crack $48 million from 78 international markets. So without much major competition in the coming weeks, it’ll be easy for the film to make it’s money back in the coming weeks. But it’s an absolutely disappointing total for DC, Robbie and Warner Brothers, who were banking on this to become a new franchise.
What did you think of the film? Are you surprised by these box office results?